3 Reasons we Love Manufacturing in L.A.
We were already designing, patterning and sampling our headbands here in our own backyard of Vancouver so it was only natural that we would manufacture them here too. Or so we thought.
The proverbial wrench in the spokes was dyeing. Turns out, after months of looking Canada wide, small scale textile dyeing (if not doing it yourself) is not possible in Canada. There are only two options on a commercial scale:
- Using on-hand fabric supplied by fabric suppliers in dye colors of their choosing
- Custom dyeing overseas and importing the fabric in minimum batches of 800 meters (enough for thousands of headbands per color)
Our goal from the beginning was to create small batches of seasonally inspired headbands and accessories so staying true to that goal essentially ruled out both options.
That's when we turned our attention to Los Angeles, one of the best decisions we made in the early planning stages of this company. A simple 2.5 hour flight in the same time zone (though a world away when leaving a Canadian winter), Los Angeles proved to be the perfect choice.
Here's the Top 3 Reasons why we LOVE manufacturing in the city of Angels.
1. The People
A quick rundown of all the companies we work together with in L.A.:
- 3 Fabric Suppliers
- 3 Dye Houses
- 1 cut & sew
- 1 distribution warehouse
- at least a dozen trim and packaging suppliers
Add those together and you end up with a lot of people in your life. It can get overwhelming at times, I'll admit, but what makes it work is that the people are across-the-board amazing.
Most of the businesses we work with are family run, just like ours. The result is that we have partners that both understand and empathize with our dream (because they too are building their dream businesses) and therefore go to great lengths to see you succeed.
The other benefit of working together with people you've developed a personal relationship with is that they take great pride in delivering the best possible product or service. Regularly we've had owners stay late and come in on weekends just to see a new batch of headbands or shawls be finished to their exacting standards.
We hear constantly from customers worldwide how thrilled they are with the craftsmanship and performance of their headbands, hair elastics and shawls. None of that would be possible without the incredible team we have in Los Angeles.
2. Disneyland for fashion manufacturing
On our flights from Vancouver to Los Angeles there are always dozens of children just raring to go for their trip to the "happiest place on earth".
But the joys of Disneyland aren't just for the young'uns. If you own, or are involved in, a business in the textile industry then the garment district of Los Angeles is your very own Disneyland.
There is a business in that district to cater to your every wish - from specialty "designer" packaging to military-grade sewing. It's what allows us to weave, dye, cut, sew, package and distribute our headbands, hairties and shawls in just a 10 mile radius - a feat that fits perfectly with our way of doing business!
There are of course many positives and some challenges that come of manufacturing in the USA.
Highest on the list of positives is providing jobs and opportunity to local Angelenos in a safe, well-lit, well-ventilated space. The partners we work with have been in the business for dozens of years, often with employees who've been with them from the beginning.
The biggest challenge would be the cost. Though costs worldwide are rising for manufacturers, the fact is that you do pay a premium to keep manufacturing local in the USA and that cost does affect price point. At the end of the day for us, the higher price point is more than worth it when seeing the faces of the people working hard to bring these products to life.
3. The City
With my old job I used to travel in and out of L.A. regularly, only ever staying long enough for a meeting at a hotel or head office. The weather was lovely but culture - what culture? I only really saw the culture of the highways and there wan't much of a friendly neighbor mentality there.
With KOOSHOO our visits have been for weeks rather than days. The additional time has allowed us to get to know both our suppliers and the city on a more intimate level.
And over those visits we've fallen in love with the city. Honestly, that's been on of the most unexpected benefits of our choosing to manufacture in L.A.
Turns out there is an incredible, culturally rich and varied culture to Los Angeles.
What helped for me is seeing L.A. as a massive city of towns, each of which with it's own identity, cuisine and history. String'em together and you get a city of endless opportunity where every dream and craving - business or pleasure - can come true.